Summary of Features
- Scale -2nd magnitude (estimated)
- Scenery - very good
- How Pristine? - developed swimming/recreation area; steps, paths,parking area, boat ramp nearby
- Swimming - fine
- Protection - excellent
- Crowds - very heavy on warm weekends
- Access - precise directions necessary
- Facilities - fair
- Safety - good
- Scuba - yes
- Cost - free
From the intersection of US 27 and US 129 in Branford, follow US 129 north for 5.5 miles. Turn west on CR 349 and go 8.9 miles to the turnoff onto 198th Terrace, where there is a sign. Continue 0.7 mile to the turn onto unpaved 157th Lane, which leads into the park, which is officially called the Hugh Byron Hollingsworth, Sr. County Park.
Royal Spring is countersunk to the surrounding landscape and has steep limestone and dirt walls on the north and east sides. The spring forms a large and attractive basin that is about 125 by 175 feet in diameter. In times of normal or low water levels, limestone is exposed at the surface and the water is blue and clear (although not as clear as many other springs). At other times, the water can be greenish with poor visibility. Water flows from a large cave entrance, approximately 50 feet deep at the base of sheer limestone wall on the east side of the spring. The bottom tapers upward from the cave entrance to the run.
The 200-foot run flows from the spring to the SW and discharges into the Suwannee River. When the river is low, water does not flow through the run to the river, but collects in small pools among the rocks. A wooden stairway leads down to flat rocks that stick up above the surface of the water. On the east side of the spring, the ruins of steep concrete retaining walls seem on the verge of falling into the water. The area around the spring is forested.
- The site is part of a Suwannee River Water Management Area is a free county park that includes a boat ramp next to the spring on the downriver (east) side.
- There are a variety of rope swings, pulley lines, jumping platforms, and other splash contraptions on the perimeter of the spring.
- Trails lead all around the spring basin. Erosion is a problem on the site and is only partly ameliorated by wooden steps leading from the parking area to the spring.
- The spring is a primary recreation site for locals and can be very crowded in the summer. Vehicles generate dust in the sand parking lot, and water activity stirs the water and reduces visibility.
Worth the drive and searching to find, Royal is best visited on quiet days. It may be used as a jumping-off point for visiting nearby Suwannee Blue Spring which is just downriver on the same bank.
- Suwannee Blue